DISCLAIMER:The following story is based on characters copywritten by "Warner Brothers" and "Shoot the Moon Productions." It is meant for enjoyment purposes only. I retain the right to the plot but not the characters.
REVENGE BURNS OUT
Amanda was awakened from her sleep by the sound of the telephone ringing. She groggily reached over and picked up the receiver glancing at the clock. 'Gosh, who could be calling at 3.15 in the morning' she thought to herself.
"Hello" she said sleepily.
"Amanda, it's me."
"Lee?" she said immediately awake. "Why are you calling at this hour? Are you alright? Has something happened?"
"Don't worry, I'm fine" he replied. "But I've got some bad news."
"What is it?" she asked worriedly.
He sighed. "I have to go on an assignment - now. Billy just rang and I have to catch the plane in an hour. I'm just packing."
Amanda bit her lip. "Oh Lee, do you really have to go?" she asked already knowing the answer.
"Yes Amanda. Something's come up in London. One of our agents, Dan Thompson, is a possible burn out and I'm going to see if he's salvageable."
"But why send you?" she asked puzzled. It wasn't the usual kind of case that they bothered Lee with.
"There is no-one else Amanda, believe me I asked"
"Look" she said, not feeling quite right about the assignment. "Why don't you wait until morning then I could come with you. You know I'll only worry and after all we are partners and..."
"Amanda!" Lee frustratedly cut across her babbling. "I have to go now. It's urgent. Billy said that I didn't have any time to waste because so many assignments have gone wrong. I shouldn't even be calling you."
"I know" she said, "it's just that...."
"Amanda" he cut in again, "I know you'll worry so I'll call you OK." His voice softened, "I don't want to be apart from my wife for too long, now do I." She smiled.
"I should be back in a couple of days" he continued, "and then we'll have that dinner and talk you wanted, I promise."
"Alright Lee" she said unhappily. "I'll miss you, please try to hurry back."
"I will. I love you."
"I love you too" she said, her voice starting to waver. "Goodbye."
She replaced the receiver and let the tears fall. She missed him already and he hadn't even left yet. Since the first time they had met she'd always dreaded hearing that he was going on an assignment without her. Even back then, she had loved him and was always afraid that she might lose him. Now that they were secretly married and she knew him so totally the dread was even worse. She also knew, however, that she'd never try to stop him from doing the job he loved so much.
She lay back down and thought about what she was going to tell him at dinner when he returned. She smiled to herself as she imagined his reaction to her news that she was pregnant. She just hoped he'd be as pleased and excited as she was.
Her smile faded as she sent up a silent prayer. 'Oh Lord, please let Lee be alright and bring him back to us safely.'
At six o'clock the next morning, Amanda arose not really having slept after Lee's call. She sat gingerly on the edge of the bed then suddenly made a dash for the bathroom. She wished fervently that this part of the pregnancy was over.
"Amanda" her mother said quietly from the doorway. "This is the second week in a row that you've been sick in the morning. Do you have something you want to tell me?"
"Mother!" exclaimed Amanda looking at her in surprise. She blushed guiltily, "Uh, no, I, um, no, I-I don't have anything to tell you" she lied. She forced a smile "I think it's just stress from work, you know."
"Stress?" said Dotty. "Is that what they call being pregnant these days?"
"Oh mother" sighed Amanda.
"Please, don't try to deny dear."
"I wasn't going to" said Amanda resignedly.
Dotty looked at her "It is Lee's, isn't it?" she asked.
"Of course it is!" she exclaimed. This wasn't the way she had planned to tell her. She had hoped to speak to Lee first. She looked at Dotty wondering how she was going to react.
"Well" Dotty said, suddenly smiling and reaching out to give her daughter a hug. "I couldn't be happier for you dear. Is Lee pleased?"
"Um, I haven't actually told him yet."
"Why not? Won't he want the baby?" demanded Dotty.
"Oh, of course he'll want the baby" said Amanda earnestly. "But I only just found out for certain myself and I haven't had time to tell him yet. And I've also been worried about telling you and the boys."
"Oh Amanda, you know I'm happy for you and the boys will be too. They like Lee so don't worry."
"Well" said Amanda doubtfully, "I'll tell them when I've spoken to Lee."
"I think that's best dear. Now, when are you going to tell him?"
Amanda grimaced "I don't know. He rang early this morning to tell me that he had been called away to London on urgent business. So I guess it'll have to wait until he returns."
"Well, until he does, you just rest and take it easy." Dotty gave her another hug "Now come on, let's go and make breakfast."
Amanda followed Dotty downstairs. When they reached the kitchen Amanda touched her mother's arm. Dotty turned around "Yes dear?" she asked.
"Mother" Amanda hesitated. "Mother, you're not disappointed in me are you? I mean , because of not being married and the baby and all?"
"Amanda, of course I'm not disappointed in you" said Dotty smiling. "I only have to see you and Lee together to know that this time it's right. You belong with each other." She paused and looked solemnly at Amanda "Shall I tell you something Amanda?"
Amanda nodded and stared back.
"When you were with Joe I always had, well, a feeling if you like, that it wouldn't work out."
"What? Mother, you didn't!" said Amanda amazed.
Dotty shrugged "Well, you were both so young and I knew with Joe working overseas that it wouldn't be long before you drifted apart. It was inevitable."
Dotty held up her hand "Amanda, let me finish." Amanda shut her mouth and waited. "With Lee, it's different. You both know what you want. You're older and wiser. This time it's forever - I can feel it"
Amanda shook her head in surprise "I can't believe you didn't say anything to me about Joe at the time."
"Well, I could hardly tell my own daughter that I didn't think her marriage would last could I? I just had to be there for you. Besides, you wouldn't have listened to me anyway. You always were so stubborn" she said smiling.
Amanda returned her smile "Well, thank you for telling me now. And you're right mother, this time, with Lee, it will be forever."
They busied themselves preparing breakfast and once it was ready Amanda called the boys downstairs.
Philip and Jaime rushed into the kitchen "Hi Mum, Hi Grandma" they called in unison.
"Hi fella's. Morning darlings" both Amanda and Dotty replied.
"Is Lee coming over later?" asked Jaime. "I wanted to show him my new science project."
"Oh sweetheart, I'm sorry but Lee had to go away for a few days for IFF. You can show him when he gets back OK?" said Amanda.
"OK" he said looking downcast.
Amanda walked over to him. "Hey" she said lifting his chin with her finger, "won't I do until then?"
"Sure" he said smiling. "I'll show you tonight."
"OK. Now, let me know when you've finished breakfast and I'll run you both to school."
"OK" they said.
An hour later Amanda had dropped the boys at school and was on her way to the Agency. She was pleased that her mother knew about her pregnancy, it felt as though a huge weight had been lifted. Maybe now Lee and herself could finally announce their 'engagement' and then get 'married' in front of her family. She smiled at the thought and began humming a tune to herself.
She had been taking her usual shortcut through the back streets when she came to a junction and stopped to check on other traffic. She was just about to move off when a car sped past and swerved in front of her screeching to a halt and blocking her way.
"What the...." she said surprised.
Before she could do anything, two masked men jumped out and ran over to her car. One of them had a bad limp, the other wrenched her door open. Both of them pointed guns at her.
She gasped and held her hands up. "Sorry Mrs. King" said the man holding her door. Before she could react, he hit her hard over the head with his gun. Amanda slumped back in her seat blacking out immediately, her head bleeding. The two men unbuckled her seat belt and dragged her out. They quickly carried her over to their car and laid her in the back. Then they jumped in the front and drove off screeching around the corner leaving Amanda's car with it's motor running, door open and her purse laying on the seat.
Over the road, a young boy sat looking out of his bedroom window. His leg was in plaster and a cowboy film was playing on his TV.
"Mum, come quick" he shouted. "Someone's being kidnapped."
His mother entered the room just as the car outside screeched off.
"What are you talking about Mark?" she asked looking at the TV.
"No Mum, not on the TV. Outside" he said pointing towards the window. "Some lady was just taken away from that car. Look!"
His mother turned and looked out of the window. She noticed the car with the door open. "Oh!" she exclaimed, "I think I'd better call the police."
The Agency, 8.30am. Billy came out of his office and walked over to Francine.
"Francine, have you seen or heard from Lee or Amanda this morning?"
"No" she said looking up at him. "Do you mean that they're both not in yet?"
"No they're not and I'm starting to get worried. It's unlike them" he said frowning. "Could you check their homes and see if you can find anything out."
Francine smirked "Amanda's probably got some major emergency, like her poppy seed cake going flat and she's called Lee over to help."
"Please Francine, just make the calls."
Francine looked down smiling. "Of course" she said. She picked up the phone and dialled Lee's number. The answering machine clicked in and she put the phone down after leaving a message. Next she called Amanda. Dotty answered.
"Hello Mrs. West, is Amanda there?"
"No dear. She left about 7.45 to drop the boys at school and then she was going straight to work. She should be there by now."
"Oh, well she's probably just stopped to get some shopping or something."
"Yes, that must be it."
"Alright Mrs. West, thank you."
"Oh, could you get her to give me a call when she arrives please?"
"Yes I will. Goodbye now."
After she hung up, Francine went into Billy's office.
"Well?" he asked.
"Lee's answering machine was on, so I left a message and Amanda should be here by now."
"I don't like this Francine" said Billy looking troubled. "Get a couple of agents out to look for Amanda. You know she always calls if she's going to be late."
"But Billy, isn't too soon to get someone out after her? She's probably just running late" said Francine derisively.
"Francine, please! I have a bad feeling about this so just do it will you!" said Billy annoyed. Francine grimaced and nodded.
"And keep trying Scarecrow. I want to know where he is too!" continued Billy.
Francine left the office and called over two agents. She gave them a description of Amanda and her car and asked them to start looking for her straight away. When they left she walked back over to the phone and tried Lee again.
London. It's raining. Lee gazed out of his hotel room overlooking Hyde Park. He sighed and turned away glancing at his watch. One more hour before his routine check-in with Billy. He has just enough time to make the arranged meeting with Dan Thompson and get back to the room to call in his initial findings and then speak to Amanda. He picked up his gun and left the room hoping that this trip to London was a short one, he missed Amanda already. He shook his head and smiled to himself remembering when they first met - those eyes. It hadn't taken him long to realise that even though she could infuriate him like no-one else and constantly get into one scrape after another, he'd never felt this way about any woman before. His protective urge had surprised even him, not to mention his jealousy.
He brought his mind back to the present as the taxi he'd hailed drew up alongside the address he had been given by Thompsons' secretary. He saw it was an old Victorian building. He paid his fare and quickly walked up the pathway and went inside.
"Can I help you?" a pleasant looking woman seated at a desk asked smiling.
"Yes, I have an appointment with Mr. Thompson"
"Oh yes. You must be Mr. Stetson" she said. Lee nodded.
"You can go straight in, Mr. Thompson is expecting you. It's just down the hall."
"Thanks." Lee walked down the corridor and knocked on the door.
"Come in" said a voice.
Lee entered the small bright office.
"Mr. Stetson. How nice of you to come and see me. Please, sit down. How's the DC office doing?"
Lee stared at the man in disbelief. "Mr. Thompson?" asked Lee stunned. Dan nodded looking puzzled.
"Agent Dan Thompson" repeated Lee wanting to make completely sure that he had the right person.
"Yes" said Dan surprised and his tone. "Is there a problem?"
Lee shook his head still looking shocked. "I'm sorry" he said, "I think there's been some mistake."
"Oh, how so?"
Lee swallowed. "Well, I, uh, I wasn't expecting you to be so, so, uh, old"
The wrinkled face that looked back at him smiled. "Tell me Mr. Stetson" said Dan, "just what did you come to see me about?"
Lee looked confused and laughed uncomfortably "You'll never believe this but I was sent to see if you were a possible burn out."
"What!" said Dan starting to laugh. "Well, I'm afraid someone's been playing a joke on you Mr. Stetson. I haven't been out in the field for fifteen years at least. I just deal with requisitions now."
Lee nodded and stared at him wondering what on earth was going on.
"Billy" said Francine walking into his office. "I've just heard from Agent Robinson. They've found Amanda's car, the local police were called out about an hour ago. I'm afraid it doesn't look good."
"What do you mean, it doesn't look good?" asked Billy starting to stand.
"Well, the engine was still running, the door was open and they found Amanda's purse on the seat..."
"Where was Amanda?" he cut in.
"She wasn't at the scene" said Francine, she paused. "That's not all." Billy stared at her as she lowered her head "They also found some blood on the car seat."
"Oh my God" said Billy dropping back into his seat. "Were there any witnesses?"
"Not at the moment. The woman who called it in refused to give her name. They're interviewing people in the neighbourhood, so hopefully they'll come up with something soon."
"Have you managed to get a hold of Lee yet?" asked Billy thinking quickly.
"No, his answering machine is still on."
"OK. For now we'll have to assume he's with Amanda until we hear different." Francine nodded. "Get our people to bring in Amanda's car now. I want a thorough search completed and I want that blood tested pronto. I want to know if it belongs to either Lee or Amanda."
Francine turned to go but Billy stopped her "Oh Francine, you'd better ring Mrs. West and tell her Amanda's gone out on an urgent location shoot and that she'll be back late. I don't want her worrying until we know what's happening."
Francine left the office to make all the arrangements. Billy leant his elbows on his desk and put his head in his hands. "What the hell's happened?" he said.
Amanda tried to open her heavy eyes. In the distance she heard someone groan and felt an intense pain pounding constantly in her head. She let it roll to one side and realised that the groaning was coming from her. She managed to force her eyes open but the light in the room was blinding causing her to moan again and quickly shut them.
A figure leant over blocking out enough light for her to take another look. "Ah, Mrs. King" it said, "you've finally woken up."
As Amanda vainly tried to focus, the blackness closed in and she slipped back into unconsciousness.
Once back in his hotel room, Lee angrily punched in numbers on the phone. While it rang he threw his clothes into his case muttering to himself.
The call was answered "International Federal Film, may I help you?"
"Yes" he snapped, "put me through to Billy Melrose, tell him it's Scarecrow."
"Oh!, Straight away Sir."
He stood and waited impatiently "Come on, come on."
"Scarecrow, where are you? We've been trying to find you all morning" said Billy relieved.
"What do you mean 'where am I?' I'm in London where you ordered me to go last night" said Lee angrily.
"What?! I gave you no such order..."
"Yes you did! You" he paused as realisation began to dawn, "or someone who sounded just like you, rang last night ordering me to go and check out an Agent Dan Thompson as a possible burn out."
"Now why would I send you on an assignment like that? I have rookies to do that job. I don't know anything about you going to London."
"I'm beginning to realise that now Billy." He sighed "It looks like someone has gone to alot of trouble to send me on a wild goose-chase." He gave a short laugh "I tell you, I felt like a right idiot when I saw him. Dan Thompson is a perfectly respectable sixty-two year old man dealing with requisitions until he retires. The question is, who wanted me out of DC and why."
On the other end of the phone Billy bit his lip worriedly. "Uh, Scarecrow" he paused, "I think I may know the why"
"What do you mean?" Lee asked confused.
"Lee, I have something to tell you..."
"What's happened?" he asked urgently, beginning to worry.
"Is it Amanda?" he asked going cold with dread.
"Is she OK?"
"LEE!" Billy finally shouted. Lee stayed silent as Billy sighed not wanting to tell him. "I'm afraid it is Amanda."
Lee shut his eyes starting to feel sick.
"She didn't turn up for work this morning after dropping her boys at school and..."
"Have you sent anyone to look for her" Lee interrupted.
"Of course" said Billy. He hesitated, not knowing how to go on. He took a deep breath and continued. "Listen Lee, there's something more I need to tell you."
Billy could hear the anxiety in his voice. "Well, the police found her car. The engine was still running and her purse was left on the seat. There wasn't any sign of Amanda."
"Oh God" groaned Lee. "Have you brought her car in?"
"Yes. It's in the pound now being checked over thoroughly. All available manpower is out looking for her Lee. We hope to find something soon."
"Lee. There's something else."
"Yeah?" said Lee apprehensively. He felt his stomach drop.
"They, uh, they found some blood on the car seat. We're getting it tested to see if it matches Amanda's."
"Some...blood?" said Lee haltingly. He felt so helpless. 'I should have been there for her' he thought to himself unhappily.
"Look, Lee" said Billy trying to comfort him. "You know better than anyone how resourceful Amanda is. If someone has tried to abduct her, she's probably got away and trying to find a phone as we speak. Don't go thinking the worst yet OK?"
"Yeah" said Lee trying to control his emotions. "I'll be on the first plane back Billy" he continued tonelessly. He replaced the receiver and quietly carried on packing.
Lee's plane finally landed late that evening. He moved through customs as quickly as he could. It had been the longest flight of his entire life. He hadn't realised just how vivid an imagination he had until today. Each time he thought of what might be happening to Amanda the more depressed he became. That was one of the drawbacks of the job, he knew all the ways people could be made to suffer.
He walked out of the airport and made his way to the car park and his Corvette. He got in and sat there for a moment. He closed his eyes and swallowed as he tried to control the rising sick feeling. "Come on Stetson" he said out loud. "Don't lose it now. You're not gonna' be any help to Amanda that way." He opened his eyes and took a deep breath. Then he started his car and drove off heading for the Agency.
A blond man who had been standing nearby watching Lee got out his mobile phone and dialled a number. "He's back" he said before limping off to his own car.
When Amanda awoke for the second time her head wasn't hurting quite as much. She opened her eyes and took a look at the room she was in. It was darker than she remembered. She was laying on a dirty mattress in one corner. There were no windows, just a door on the other side of the room. She sat up and slowly got to her feet. Leaning on the wall for support she walked over to the door and tried it. It was locked.
"Hello" she croaked. She cleared her throat and tried again. "Hello" she said in a louder voice. She started to bang on the door, "HELLO!" she shouted.
Nothing. There was no sound whatsoever. Amanda was scared. 'What am I doing here?' she wondered to herself. She started to feel dizzy and her stomach churned. She made her way back to the mattress as quickly as she could and sank down on it, gratefully closing her eyes.
All she could do for the moment was wait.
Lee arrived at the Agency and went into Billy's office. "I'm sorry Lee" said Billy at Lee's inquiry, "but there's no news as yet."
Lee nodded expecting this. "Can I go and have a look at Amanda's car?"
They headed out of the office and down to the Agency pound. Billy opened the car door and stepped back for Lee to have a closer look inside. Lee glanced around and noticed the bloodstains on the seat. He slowly reached out and touched them.
"Oh God, Amanda" he muttered, "I'll never forgive myself for not being with you this morning. I should have taken you to London with me as you asked."
"What was that Lee?" asked Billy. Thinking that Lee had spotted something he bent over to get a closer look.
Lee straightened up and cleared his throat. "Uh, nothing. Where's Amanda's purse?"
"Upstairs in my office."
"I want to have a look at that as well." He shoved his hands into his pockets and started walking towards the lift.
Billy locked the car up and hurriedly foolowed him.
"You know, whoever planned this, knows our setup, and us, pretty good" said Lee. "I would have staked my life on it being you that called me last night."
"I agree with you. While you're looking through Amanda's purse, I'll chase up that prison release and escape check with Francine. Maybe she's come up with a name you'll recognise."
"I hope so" said Lee lowering his head.
They stopped by the lift and waited for it to come down. Billy looked at Lee in concern and reached out and put his hand on his shoulder "Lee."
"Yeah?" said Lee looking up.
"I'm sure Amanda will be alright. You've taught her well and....."
"Oh Billy" said Lee frustratedly. "I just.....I just feel so damn helpless! And I can't believe I fell for a trick like that."
"Lee, you didn't know this was going to happen. Nobody did. This setup has been planned for a reason..."
"But what reason? Why haven't we heard from them yet huh? What are they waiting for? he asked, his voice breaking.
Billy stared at him for a moment, completely at a loss. Then he said quietly "Lee, I know how you feel about Amanda."
"Oh, do you?" Lee snapped, "Do you really?"
"Yes. I know that you love her. I know that you love each other."
Lee gave Billy a tortured look "I honestly don't think I could go on without her Billy. I just couldn't stand it if I lost her. What would I say to her boys? Her mother? I mean, how could I tell them that losing her was all my fault because I got her mixed up in a world that she should never have even known about." He swallowed hard and tried to regain control of his emotions.
"Amanda knew the risks when she agreed to work for the Agency."
"I know, I know" said Lee running his fingers agitatedly through his hair. "But Amanda's always been there for me Billy, you know. She's stuck by me when all my other friends have deserted me. I've never had someone do that for me before and now this has happened." He looked down "God, I hate myself" he said in a low voice. "I just can't believe I wasn't there for her."
"Stop blaming yourself Lee, it wasn't your fault" said Billy looking at him worriedly. "You've got to try to get control of yourself. I know it's hard but I need you to be acting rationally and so does Amanda" he pointed out.
"Yeah, I know" sighed Lee. "OK, let's go and take a look at Amanda's purse."
They went back to Billy's office and Lee looked through Amanda's bag. While flicking through her address book he found a photo of them both between some pages. He stared at it with a small smile, he didn't even know she possessed a picture of them. As he replaced the photo Francine entered with some news.
"Billy, Lee, we've found a witness. It's a young boy called Mark who......."
"It's about time" said Lee cutting in. "Where is he?"
"At home" Francine rummaged through her pocket for a piece of paper, "Uh, 1969 Evergreen Drive. Apparently he was at the hospital earlier to check on his broken leg. Then his mother took him to see his grandparents. They've just got back and that's why we didn't have a lead until now."
"Great, I'll get straight over there" said Lee snatching the paper from Francine's hand. He started to walk out of the door but Billy stopped him.
"Scarecrow! Wait a minute. You can't go around there at his time of night" he said looking at his watch.
Lee turned "Wanna' bet?" he said looking at him determinedly. Without waiting for a response he turned and walked out of the door.
Billy grabbed his coat. "Keep an eye on things" he said to Francine. "Let me know if you get anymore information. I'd better go with Lee."
Francine nodded and watched him leave.
Amanda lay on the mattress thinking about her family, knowing they'd be worried about her. She heard a key turning in the lock and sat up. A man entered and walked over to her, she gasped in recognition. "Peter Brackin! I thought you were still in prison."
"I was Mrs. King, but as you can see, I'm out now" he said smiling nastily.
"What do you want from me?" she asked staring at him.
"Oh, you're just a means to an end Mrs. King. It's Stetson I want and through you I'm gonna' get him."
"I don't know what you mean. I hardly know Mr. Stetson" she tried to bluff. "I only work part time at IFF..."
"Come now Mrs. King. I've had a man tailing you for weeks. I know all about your secret little meetings together. I know that you're more than just.....friends."
Amanda looked down blushing as she thought of all the times she'd met up with Lee. "But you can't have had someone..."
"And I arranged for Stetson to go on that trip to London" he continued.
"What!" she exclaimed quickly looking up at him. "But...."
He walked closer and reached out cupping her face. She tried to draw back but he gripped her chin tighter. He smiled slightly "You know, I still can't believe that Lee Stetson would let himself get attached to a little housewife" he said disgustedly. "I thought he had more sense."
"Oh really" Amanda said angrily wrenching her chin from his hand. "Well, Lee will find me and when he does, you'll be sorry."
Brackin laughed scornfully. "It's not me who's going to be sorry Mrs. King. I want Stetson to come here, because when he does, he won't be leaving."
Brackin stood up abruptly and walked quickly to the door. He turned to her as he was about to leave "Sleep well Mrs. King" he said sarcastically and then left locking the door behind him.
Amanda fell back on the mattress shaking. "Oh Lee" she whispered, placing her hands over her stomach protectively. "I'm so scared." She closed her eyes and silently started to cry.
Lee and Billy arrived at Mark's house and rang the bell. After a short discussion his mother finally let them in to see him. Mark sat by his window and described what had happened. Lee sat opposite asking questions while Billy and Mark's mother stood in the doorway listening.
"...and then I saw them drag the lady out of the car and put her into their car and then they drove away."
"Was the lady struggling?" asked Lee.
"Nah. She looked like she'd fainted or something."
'Or something' Lee thought to himself grimly as he recalled the bloodstain. "What kind of car did they have, do you know?" he continued questioning.
The boy snorted. "Of course I know. It was a Dodge Sedan."
"Did you notice the registration?"
"Nah, sorry, I couldn't see the number from here" he said shaking his head.
"OK. What about the colour?"
"It was blue. Light blue."
"That's great" he said taking note. "Now. You said there were two men. Did you get a look at either of them?"
"Nah, they were wearing masks."
"Oh" said Lee. He looked at his notes and sighed. They weren't much help.
Mark tapped Lee on the arm. "But I did notice something else" said the boy.
"Yeah?" said Lee hopefully. "What was that?"
"One of them had a limp!" said Mark proudly.
"A limp?" said Lee smiling at him, "that's great, that's great. Do you remember which leg?"
"Yeah, it was the same one as me" said Mark. He pointed at his right leg and smiled back.
Lee and Billy drove back to the Agency after speaking to Mark.
"I can't believe we don't have anything more to go on than a car you can pick up anywhere and a man with a limp. It's ridiculous!" said Lee frustratedly.
Billy looked at him. "I know. I'm sorry Lee, I just don't know what to say." He shook his head and lifted his hands in a helpless gesture.
Lee sighed. "No Billy. I'M sorry. I'm just not handling this very well."
Billy smiled understandingly at him. "Don't worry. By now Francine should have that list ready."
Lee nodded and drove on in silence. By the time they reached the Agency it was past midnight.
They went into Billy's office and updated Francine on what they'd found out.
"Oh, I almost forgot" said Francine. "Mrs. West rang again and I told her that Amanda had to go on an urgent over-nighter out of town. I said I'd get her to ring tomorrow as she'd be busy most of the night."
"And she believed you?" asked Lee incredulously.
"Yes. But she wasn't very happy."
"Well we can't worry about that now" said Billy. "Francine, have you had any luck with that list yet?"
"Oh yes" said Francine as she looked at her watch. "It should be sent through any minute now."
"Good. Let us know as soon as it's here."
Francine nodded and left. Billy turned to Lee and noticed him rubbing his hand wearily over his eyes. He shook his head and sighed. "Once we've had a look through that list I suggest you go home and try to get some rest Lee."
"What?!" said Lee looking at him in disbelief. "Are you kidding? Just how am I supposed to get any rest when Amanda's out there somewhere huh?"
"Lee, please, you're not going to be any good to anyone if you're exhausted."
"That's an order Scarecrow!" said Billy, his voice raised. "You know I'll call you if anything comes up in the meantime. I'll be here all night."
Lee looked ready to argue the point when Francine suddenly burst excitedly into the office. "I've got the list" she said waving some paper. "I think we've may have found our man."
"Who is it?" asked Lee immediately alert.
"Peter Brackin" said Francine triumphantly. "He and Jack Harris busted out of jail three weeks ago."
"Brackin!" exclaimed Lee. "Of course. I should have made the connection earlier." He turned to Billy "No wonder I got called away on that phony burn out case. That's how I caught him, remember? I pretended to be a burn out myself." Billy nodded.
Lee shook his head in disgust "Why didn't I see it! No wonder he knows us so well. He was one of us."
"Wait" said Francine. "Get this. Jack Harris broke his leg when he was in jail and it never set properly so now he has a limp. I'll give you three guesses which leg."
Billy smiled at her "Well, that confirms it. Good work Francine. Let all available agents know who we're after. Get them to try Brackin's old office and surrounding area first. Let me know if they find anything."
"Right" said Francine. She turned and left.
"I'll get straight over there myself Billy" said Lee as he headed out of the door.
"Hold it right there, Scarecrow."
Lee stopped and looked at Billy questioningly.
"I've already given you an order. Now, go home" said Billy in a tone that brooked no argument.
"You can't expect me to go home now. Not when I know who we're looking for Billy" said Lee angrily.
"Agents will be out looking all night. If they find anything I'll call you" said Billy finally losing his patience. "God man, you are asleep on your feet and I don't want to have to worry about you as well. Now go home! Brackin may try to contact you there anyway."
"But I can check my messages from here…" said Lee as he tried to convince him.
"And what if Amanda tries to contact you?" said Billy, his voice rising. Lee looked down.
Billy sighed and walked over to Lee and put his hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Look, this way we're covering all bases. You know it makes sense. Now, please, don't argue with me, just go home" he said in a quieter tone. He turned and picked up the list and began to read "I'll call you in an hour. You'd better be there."
Lee stared a Billy's back still reluctant to go.
"Goodbye Scarecrow" said Billy still reading the list.
Lee sighed finally giving in, too tired to argue anymore.
Lee spent the night at his apartment alternating between dozing on the couch and calling Billy - neither of which were productive. He felt totally exhausted and his nerves were on edge. If only he could work out what Brackin had planned.
At eight the next morning, knowing he had to leave the telephone and get washed and dressed sometime, he stood up and made his way to the bathroom to have a shower. He was determined to go back to the Agency afterwards and not leave until Brackin was found no matter what Billy said!
Brackin, Harris and a man called Nick Jones were in a room talking.
"By now Stetson should be a wreck" said Brackin laughing. "He'll be so worried about the King woman that he won't be able to see straight."
The others laughed.
"Jack, you go and get Mrs. King and bring her here. I'm gonna' call Stetson" said Brackin. He sat back in his chair "I want him out here today and then I'm gonna' make him pay for putting me away."
Harris nodded and limped out of the room.
Amanda was dozing when her door opened. Harris walked in and pointed a gun at her "Get up Mrs. King. You have to come with me" he said.
Amanda got to her feet slowly, her eyes were wide "Jack Harris? So, you're in on this too."
"Where are we going?" she asked fearfully.
"Not far." He gestured with the gun for her to move ahead of him. She walked out of the room and into the corridor.
"This way" he said and gestured left. She carried on walking and came to a door on the right. "In there" he said.
Amanda looked at him and bit her lip worriedly as she reached out and opened the door. She entered the room and glanced around. Brackin and a man she didn't recognise were seated at a table with a telephone on it.
"Sit down, Mrs. King" said Brackin. He smiled at her "We're just about to make a phone call."
Lee had just finished his shower and was getting dressed when his phone rang. He snatched up the receiver "Stetson."
"Ah, Stetson. I think you've been waiting for my call."
"Very good, I'm impressed. How was your trip to London?"
"Where's Amanda?" asked Lee, ignoring his taunt.
"Let me talk to her."
"Not yet. There's something I want you to do for me first. If you don't agree, I'll kill her right here and now."
Lee lost his patience "Why you…"
Brackin cut across him "I want you to get me the new SK-10 missile blueprints. Then go to the warehouse on Jackson Street in one hour. Alone. Meet me inside and when you've given me the papers I'll give you Mrs. King."
"An hour?" said Lee. "I'm going to need more time to get information that highly classified."
"You have an hour."
"An hour Stetson."
Lee tried to control his anger "Let me talk to Amanda. I want to make sure she's OK before I agree to anything."
On the other end of the line Brackin handed the phone to Amanda. "Just say hello. Anything more and you'll regret it" said Brackin with quiet menace.
Amanda nodded and stared at the gun he held pointed at her. She took the phone and put it to her ear "Hello."
"Amanda?" said Lee urgently, "are you alri…."
At the other end Amanda swallowed then suddenly spoke up "Lee, there are three of them with guns…." She gasped as Brackin snatched the phone from her hand. Harris stepped up and slapped her hard around the face causing her to cry out.
"Amanda? Amanda!" shouted Lee down the phone.
Brackin answered him laughing. "Don't sound so worried Stetson. Mrs. King just got what she deserved."
"If you touch her again, I swear I'll kill you Brackin" said Lee through gritted teeth.
Brackin laughed again "I'll see you in an hour Stetson."
The line went dead and Lee slowly replaced the receiver. He took a couple of deep breaths trying to calm down. He'd felt sick when he'd heard her cry out.
"Don't worry Amanda" he said grimly, "I'm not going to let you down this time."
A door opened and Amanda was shoved back into her room. She fell so heavily onto the floor that the breath was knocked out of her. She looked up, frightened.
"That was very stupid Mrs. King" said Brackin. "But it doesn't make much difference to my plan. You're both gonna' die anyway."
Brackin turned on his heel and left the room. He slammed the door shut so hard that the noise made Amanda wince. She slowly got to her feet and stumbled over to the mattress where she sank down. She leaned back against the wall and stared into space. Her jaw was aching badly now and she gingerly touched her fingers to her lips. When she drew her hand back there was blood on them. As she stared at the blood her vision began to blur and a wave of dizziness hit her, then she fainted.
Lee left his apartment and raced to the Agency. He told Billy about the call and they arranged for a bogus file to be made up. Lee paced up and down in Billy's office as he waited impatiently.
He checked his watch "I need that file now Billy. I've got to go, Amanda's life depends on it."
"OK Lee, calm down. Francine is getting the file together for you to take. I'll follow you there with backup so that..."
Lee shook his head "No, no, no, Billy. I have to go alone. Remember, Brackin was one of us. He knows all the moves. I can't take the risk."
"I'm sorry Scarecrow but you will have that backup and that's final. You'll also be wearing a wire. I'm not risking your life as well."
"A wire? Come on Billy he'll find that straight away."
"Not this he won't" said Billy. He held up a watch and smiled "Put it on."
Lee stared at him and then at the watch and sighed. "OK" he said reluctantly taking the watch. "But only if you agree not to come in unless it's absolutely necessary. I don't want anything to go wrong."
"Agreed" said Billy.
Francine walked in carrying a file, "OK, here is the fake blueprint."
"Good" said Lee taking the file. He looked at Billy "OK, let's go."
Lee stopped his Corvette outside the warehouse in Jackson Street and got out looking around cautiously. Billy and two other agents are staked out in a car nearby. Other agents are dotted about the area. Lee walked slowly to the door and opened it. He stopped and took a last glance around outside and then entered.
"Stay alert" said Billy over his radio to the other agents.
Inside the warehouse it was dark. Lee paused for a moment to let his eyes adjust and then walked slowly forward.
"Brackin" he called. "Where are you? I've got the file you wanted."
Lee kept walking and calling until he got to a pile of boxes and then Brackin stepped out in front of him and pointed a gun. Lee stopped and raised his arms. He heard a noise behind and turned his head. Nick Jones was standing there and also held a gun. Lee turned back to Brackin.
"Search him" said Brackin to Jones.
Jones quickly checked Lee's clothes and pulled out his gun. He handed it to Brackin "That's it. He's clean, no wire."
Brackin nodded and smiled at Lee "Well, well, well Stetson. Long time no see."
"Not long enough Brackin."
"Oh? I think it's been too long."
Lee stared coldly at him.
"OK, give me the file" said Brackin. He held out his hand but Lee didn't move.
"Let me see Amanda first, then I'll give you the file."
Brackin smiled slightly at him and turned away. "Jack" he called, "bring Mrs. King here."
Harris appeared from behind some other boxes with Amanda. He held her by the arm and had a gun to her head.
Lee's breath caught in his throat as he stared at her in shock, she looked dreadful. He noticed the gash on her head where they'd hit her with the gun. There was still dried blood on her face and hair. His gaze moved down to the nasty bruise and swollen lip from the slap he'd heard over the phone. He felt his rage build and tried to control himself because he knew that he'd have to keep a level head if they were both going to get out of there alive.
He gave Amanda a concerned smile "You OK?" he asked.
She smiled back, her eyes glistening with tears. "I'm fine" she replied. She'd seen his reaction and knew he was angry.
"Well, now you've seen her I'll have that file" said Brackin as he held out his hand once again.
Lee handed over the file. Brackin gave it a quick look and then, without warning, he ripped it up. Amanda gasped and Lee stared at him with his mouth open.
"It was a fake wasn't it Stetson?"
Outside Billy is monitoring. He picked up his radio "Alright men, start moving in. Scarecrow's going to need help."
Several agents moved quietly to the door and entered.
"We're in position Sir" said an agent over the radio.
"OK" said Billy "Hold off until I give the word."
Back inside the warehouse Brackin walked up to Lee "I didn't really want the file. What I wanted was you. It was so easy" he said smugly. "I just had Nick tail you both for a couple of weeks. I soon realised that if I could grab your girlfriend here then I'd have you eating right out of my hand." He laughed nastily. "You've gone soft Stetson" he said scornfully. "I rotted in jail long enough because of you two and now you're both gonna' die."
"Why you..." said Lee as he moved towards Brackin. Jones grabbed him by the arms.
"Hold him, I want him to see her die first" he said. He turned towards Amanda and slowly pointed his gun at her. Harris let her go and walked over to help Jones with Lee. Wide-eyed, Amanda stared first at the gun and then at Lee who was vainly struggling to get free.
"NO!" shouted Lee terrified. 'Where are you Billy' he thought starting to panic 'hurry up and get here.'
Amanda started to cry and wrapped her arms around her stomach to protect the tiny life within. "No, please, don't do this" she said. "Please, you don't understand. I'm begging you."
Brackin looked at Lee with a smile "How does it feel to see her beg Stetson, huh?"
Lee struggled harder to free himself. "Leave her alone Brackin. She has nothing to do with this. Just take me, you said I'm the one you want" he said desperately.
Brackin shook his head. "She helped put me away. She has to die, it's as simple as that" he said shrugging his shoulders. He turned back to Amanda "Say Goodbye Mrs. King." He held up the gun and got ready to shoot.
"Take them out now!" said Billy over the radio. He got out of the car and ran over to the warehouse. He opened the door and heard shots ring out. He ran quickly through the warehouse and saw Jones laying dead on the floor. Harris was sitting on one of the boxes and holding his bleeding arm. Agents are surrounding him.
Billy looked around "Where's Scarecrow and Mrs. King" he asked concerned.
"Brackin grabbed Mrs. King and Scarecrow's gone after them. They went up there" said and agent and pointed to an iron staircase.
"OK, you four get these outside" said Billy gesturing to the two thugs. "The rest of you come with me." He started for the stairs.
Lee followed Brackin and Amanda along the iron walkway. There was a wall one side and metal railings on the other.
"Give it up Brackin" shouted Lee. "You can't get away with this."
Brackin turned and shot at him. He ducked and the bullet ricocheted off the railings.
"If you come any closer I'll kill her" yelled back Brackin.
Lee stood up slowly and held up his hands "OK, OK, let's just calm down, huh?"
They heard Billy and the other agents coming up the stairs.
"Look, come on man" said Lee trying to sound reasonable. "Why don't you just come quietly huh? You know there's no way out of this for you."
Brackin let Amanda go and pointed his gun at Lee. "No way Stetson" he said starting to pull the trigger.
"Lee, look out!" called Amanda. She pushed Brackin against the wall causing the gun to go off. Lee threw himself to the ground and Amanda turned to run away. Brackin quickly regained his balance and pushed her hard, face first, towards the railings. She let out a small cry of pain and then a groan as the top rail hit her squarely in the gut. She sank to the ground clutching her stomach.
Lee looked up in time to see her hit the railing. He angrily got to his feet just as Brackin stood over Amanda and pointed his gun, Lee let out a yell "NO!"
Startled, Brackin turned towards him. Lee ran over and kicked the gun out of his hand. Then he punched Brackin hard in the face and watched in satisfaction as he went down. Lee bent to pick up the gun just as Billy and the other agents come along the walkway. As Lee straightened up Brackin suddenly kicked him in the stomach. He doubled up and fell to his knees. Brackin pushed him over and grabbed the gun pointing it at Lee "One more move and he's dead."
Billy held up his hand and they all stopped. As Brackin slowly stepped backwards, Amanda put out her leg tripped him up. Seeing that Brackin was off balance Lee got up and ran towards him. He caught him about the waist and pushed him over knocking the gun out of his hand and over the side of the walkway. Lee grabbed hold of Brackin's shirt and punched him hard and then punched him again knocking him out.
Lee raised his fist for a third time but Amanda stopped him "Lee!" He looked around. "Lee, that's enough" she admonished.
Lee looked back at Brackin and shoved him down onto the floor. "Yeah" he said and got up. "You'd better get him out of my sight before I change my mind" he said to Billy who had just walked up.
Billy nodded and called over to the other agents "OK men. Get him out of here."
Lee walked over to Amanda and kelt down beside her "Hey are you alright?" he asked gently.
"Yeah, I think so" she said smiling weakly. "Oh Lee, I was so scared."
Lee pulled her into his arms "I know. I was too" he said softly. He gently rocked her and rubbed her back soothingly. Then he pulled back to look at her "It's all over now and you're safe OK" he said gently pushing her hair back from her face. He kissed her forehead gently and grimly examined her bruised and bloodied face once again. "I can't believe what they did to you. I'm so sorry Amanda" he said in a distressed voice.
"It doesn't matter Lee. Not as long as you're safe and with me too" she said leaning back into him.
Billy cleared his throat and they both looked up at him. "I really think you should go to the hospital and get that cut seen to Amanda" he said. Lee helped Amanda to get up and nodded his agreement.
"Oh no Sir. I'm fine, really. I just need to clean up a little bit" she said trying to smile.
"Amanda, Billy's right. You do need to get that checked out, it's pretty nasty" said Lee.
"No, really, I'm...." She hesitated slightly as she felt a sharp pain in her stomach. When it passed she continued to try to convince them she was alright "I'm fine. Really. There's no need to fuss."
"Well, if you're sure" said Billy unconvinced. "But let me know if you change your mind."
"Oh, I will Sir" she replied. The pain came back again, stronger this time. Amanda bit her lip and hoped it would go away.
Billy smiled at them both and turned to go. They began to walk when, suddenly, Amanda stopped and grabbed Lee's arm. Her other hand was clutched to her stomach and there was a look of pain and fear on her face. 'Oh my God, the baby' she thought to herself. 'Please don't let me lose the baby'.
Lee turned and took hold of her shoulders. "Amanda! What's the matter?" he asked worriedly.
Amanda looked from him to Billy "Uh, Sir" she said weakly to Billy, "I've just changed my mind."
The hospital. Dotty and Lee have been in the waiting room for two hours. After she had said she needed the hospital Amanda had fainted. Lee had caught her and carried her to his car and driven her straight there. He'd called Dotty and explained that Amanda had had a bad fall. She had rushed straight up after leaving the boys with Joe. All they could do now was wait. Lee paced up and down while Dotty sat in a chair and watched him worriedly. She finally got up and walked over to him putting a hand on his arm. Lee stopped and looked at her still lost in thought.
"Lee" she said. "I'm going to get a coffee. Would you like some?"
"Ah, yeah. That would be great, thanks" he said vaguely.
Dotty sighed "OK. Well, you just sit down and I'll be back in a minute."
He nodded and walked over to a chair and sat down heavily on it. He buried his face in his hands and wondered what was taking the Doctor so long.
Dotty came back carrying the coffee. "Here you are" she said and handed him a cup.
Lee took the drink and had a sip. "Thanks."
They sat quietly for a moment and then Lee looked down and said "I wish they would tell us something. It's killing me not knowing what's happening."
Dotty looked at him sympathetically. "You know, it's probably overwork. I mean, out all day and then working all night in her condition. I'll bet she's not eaten properly and that's what caused her to faint" she said.
Lee looked at her and frowned. "What do you mean, 'her condition'? he asked.
Dotty stared at him mortified as she realised that he still didn't know about the baby. "Oh, uh, um, her...." she paused trying to think of something quickly. "Oh! Her stressful condition" she said as she turned red. "She's been suffering from stress. Yes, stress. It's been bad for the last two weeks."
"Stress? Amanda? She didn't say anything to me" said Lee surprised.
"Well she probably didn't want to worry you" said Dotty. "You know Amanda." Lee nodded and took another sip of coffee. Dotty sighed. She hated to lie to Lee but Amanda should be the one to tell him about the baby. The baby. She lowered her head and prayed that everything would be alright after Amanda's fall. At this early stage of pregnancy she knew it could be dangerous.
Amanda woke up and looked around the room. She sat up quickly and then realised that she wasn't in the warehouse but in a hospital room. She looked at the wall and pressed the buzzer. She waited a few minutes and then a doctor and nurse walked in.
"Ah, Mrs. King, I'm Dr. Morris. How are you feeling now?" he asked.
"Um, better thank you" she said. She swallowed nervously as she wondered about her baby. "Uh Doctor, have I...um, I mean, am I" she faltered and took a deep breath. "What about my baby?" she asked quietly.
"Your baby's fine Mrs. King" he said smiling at her. "It was touch and go for a while but you're in the clear now. You still need to have at least two weeks bed rest though. That fall was quite serious..."
"Fall?" said Amanda looking puzzled.
"Yes, fall. Mr. Stetson said you had an accident at work."
"Oh, I see, Mr. Stetson said." she said nodding slowly. "Well, you know, I don't really remember much of what happened."
"That's not unusual Mrs. King. You have had a nasty blow to the head."
Amanda nodded again and smiled at the doctor. "I understand" she said.
"I'll get the nurse to arrange an appointment for you to come back in a couple of weeks for check-up just to be on the safe side."
"Thank you. I appreciate all you've done."
"That's OK. Now, do you feel up to having visitors? Your mother and Mr. Stetson are waiting outside."
"Oh. Yes please."
Dr. Morris and nurse left and Amanda pulled herself up into a sitting position. There was a knock at the door.
"Come in" she said.
Dotty popped her head around the door and smiled and then walked into the room. Lee followed and shut the door behind him. He stood and stared at her for a second and she stared back, then they both slowly smiled at each other. He walked over to the side of the bed next to Dotty.
"Amanda, is everything OK?" asked her mother as he held her hand.
"Yeah, I'm fine Mother. Dr. Morris said that I need complete bed rest for two weeks though."
"Well, I'm not surprised with all the work you've been doing lately." She stared at Amanda "Amanda dear, I told Lee outside that you've been suffering from stress for the last two weeks." she said with emphasis.
Amanda's eyes widened. "Oh yeah, yeah" she said as she realised what Dotty was trying to tell her. She stared back meaningfully at Dotty "Um, do you think I could have some water Mother?"
"Certainly dear." Dotty looked around the room "Oh, there's no jug."
"Well, would you mind going to the nurse's station and getting me some?" she asked still staring hard at Dotty. Her mother finally understood. "Oh! Of course dear" she said. She turned and patted Lee's arm and walked out with a smile on her face.
Lee turned to Amanda and grinned. He sat on the edge of the bed "Well, now that you've got me all alone, what are you going to do with me?" he asked teasingly.
She grinned back. "Oh, I'm sure you'll think of something" she said and held out her arms.
"I'm sure I will" he said as he slipped his arms around her waist and gently kissed her. He pulled back and frowned slightly "Are you sure you're well enough to do this?"
"I'm always well enough to do this" she replied and gave him a quick kiss.
He laughed and then sobered. He took her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. "You know, I almost went crazy when I found out you'd been kidnapped. You could have been killed and it would have all been my fault. I should have been there for you Amanda. I'm sorry."
"Oh Lee" said Amanda as she gently touched his face. "Don't be sorry, it's not your fault. Brackin and Harris are the one's to blame not you."
"I know but..."
"Lee, please, I just want to forget about what happened. It makes me go cold just talking about it."
"OK. You're right. I'm sorry." He gave her a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek. He made the effort to change the subject. "So, where do you want to go for dinner?" he asked.
Amanda looked at him blankly. "Dinner?"
"Yeah, dinner. You said you wanted to talk to me about something, so where do you want to go?"
Amanda looked down "Well, um, if it's alright with you, I'd rather just talk here."
"What now?" asked Lee. Amanda nodded.
"Well, OK. If that's what you want" said Lee puzzled. He wondered what could be so important.
"OK" said Amanda. She took a deep breath and hoped he'd be pleased with the news. "Well" she said, "I..."
There was a knock at the door and a nurse entered. "I'm sorry to interrupt but I have the appointment times for your check-up's."
"Oh, thank you" said Amanda.
The nurse walked over to them and held out two cards. "Now, this one is for your general check-up with Dr. Morris" she said as she handed over one of the cards. "And this one is for Dr. Smedley. She's the hospital gynecologist and she'll be giving you a routine scan just to make sure that you or the baby aren't suffering any side effects from the fall." She handed over the other card.
"Thank you" said Amanda weakly and took the card. The nurse smiled at them both and left.
Amanda looked down and fiddled with the cards. The silence was deafening. This wasn't how Lee was supposed to find out. She swallowed and slowly raised her head to look at him. If she had suddenly grown another head he couldn't have looked more shocked.
"Lee? Aren't you going to say something?" asked Amanda quietly.
Lee stared at her and opened his mouth. There were a million thoughts and emotions coursing through him all at the same time and he just couldn't speak.
"Lee?" said Amanda worriedly. She clasped his hands "Lee" she repeated, "please."
The anxiety in her voice finally got through to him and he shook his head slightly, trying to get his thoughts back together. A baby. He couldn't believe it. They were actually going to have a baby. He looked at Amanda's worried face and suddenly grabbed hold of her about the waist and gave her a long kiss. They parted for breath and he started to laugh. "A baby! I'm so happy Amanda" he said and gave her a fierce hug.
Amanda smiled and the felt tears of joy roll down her face. "I hoped you would be."
He drew back and looked at her smiling, then he became serious as he realised the near miss she must have had. "God Amanda. He pushed you onto that railing. You could have lost....."
"Shhh" said Amanda. "Don't think about it."
"No Lee. Everything's fine, with me and the baby" she said. "I don't want to talk about it anymore."
He sighed, still not happy. "OK" he said reluctantly. She saw he was still bothered and kissed him on the cheek. He smiled "So. When's he due?" he asked.
"He? What makes you thinks it's a boy?"
"Well, I thought you'd like to have a Lee Stetson Junior running around. You know, always saying 'no', getting into lots of trouble.."
Amanda rolled her eyes "If that's what I have to look forward to than I'm gonna' have a girl!"
Lee smiled at her, "Yeah. And she'll be as beautiful as her mother."
Amanda smiled back at him shyly. He moved his hand and rested it on her stomach and gazed adoringly into her eyes. "I love you Amanda" he said emotionally.
"I love you too" she said and placed her hand over his. "Lee, do you think we could announce our engagement to everybody now?" she asked. "I want this to be official and I need to tell the boys."
Lee nodded. "Yeah, the sooner the better. We'll tell the boys and your mother when we get you home OK?"
She nodded and bit her lip. "Um, Lee?"
"Mother already knows I'm pregnant."
"She what!" he exclaimed.
Amanda shrugged her shoulders and started to babble. "Well, I couldn't help it you know. Her bedroom is right next to the bathroom and she heard me being ill every morning, because I suffer really bad with morning sickness, and anyway as I was ill the same with the boys she sort of two and two together and well....she knows!" She shrugged her shoulders and gave him a rueful smile.
Lee narrowed his eyes. "So that's what she meant outside about 'your condition'" he said. He laughed. "I must admit, I did think it was strange when she said that you were suffering from stress but I was too worried about you to take much notice."
He took her hand in his "I'll have to tell Billy." Amanda nodded. "I'll make sure that he gets someone else to take over any assignments overseas for a while. I want to be here with you."
Amanda smiled at him relieved. "I'm glad" she said. "I miss you too much when you go away."
They sat contentedly on the bed with their arms around each other, then Amanda pulled away slightly and looked at him. "Lee, do you remember when Joe came back that first time about a year and a half ago and we went to Dooleys and I saw you there?"
"Yeah" he said looking back at her.
"Well, Joe asked me if I wanted to go back to how it was before."
"Oh. Did he? And what did you say?"
"I told him that I wanted to go forward. I said that it was going to be a great future." She wound her arms around his neck and smiled at him. "Then I saw you standing there and I knew without a doubt that it would only be great if I shared it with you. And I was right wasn't I Lee."
He smiled and kissed her soundly on the lips. "Yes Amanda. You were right. We're going to have a wonderful future."
Amanda grinned mischievously. "Yeah. Wonderful. Right up until Francine finds out about us and the baby."
They looked at each other. "Poor Francine!" they both said together and laughed.